Sunday, December 9, 2018

Happy news!!!!

I signed with the incredible Jennie Kendrick at Red Fox Literary!!

Yay, yay, yay!!

I'm over-the-moon excited to get to work with Jennie, Karen Grencik, and the rest of the Red Fox team!

* * *

Thank you, Jennie, for believing in me and my writing!

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Picture Books that Emphasize Inclusion

Words matter. Art matters. Books for young people matter, and it's important for all kids to see themselves represented--and respectfully--in these books. Inclusion matters. It's empowering.

I want to share two fabulous picture books that emphasize inclusion.

The first, ONE FAMILY, is a book I posted about back in 2015. I still love it. I've given it to young family members and friends, and I've recommended it to friends (and random people at our local indie bookstore who maybe weren't looking for a recommendation but ended up buying it, so yay!).

written by George Shannon and illustrated by Blanca Gomez
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date: May 26,2015

Just as I did in 2015, I'll post the starred review in Kirkus that beautifully describes ONE FAMILY:

A playful counting book also acts as a celebration of family and human diversity.

Shannon's text is delivered in spare, rhythmic, lilting verse that begins with one and counts up to 10 as it presents different groupings of things and people in individual families, always emphasizing the unitary nature of each combination. "One is six. One line of laundry. One butterfly's legs. One family." Gomez's richly colored pictures clarify and expand on all that the text lists: For "six," a picture showing six members of a multigenerational family of color includes a line of laundry with six items hanging from it outside their windows, as well as the painting of a six-legged butterfly that a child in the family is creating. While text never directs the art to depict diverse individuals and family constellations, Gomez does just this in her illustrations. Interracial families are included, as are depictions of men with their arms around each other, and a Sikh man wearing a turban. This inclusive spirit supports the text's culminating assertion that "One is one and everyone. One earth. One world. One family."

A visually striking, engaging picture book that sends the message that everyone counts. (Picture book: 3-6)

The second book I want to spread the word about is ALL ARE WELCOME.

written by Alexandra Penfold and illustrated by Suzanne Kauffman
Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication date: July 10, 2018

I've been sharing ALL ARE WELCOME with kids and teachers, and I'm so happy the book exists. The book jacket has an adorable poster on the inside. My copy is hanging in a classroom this very minute!

I love it! Look at that adorable, diverse group of children, all holding hands! Suzanne Kauffman's art is spectacular!

Here's the book description I found on the IndieBound website:

A warm, welcoming picture book that celebrates diversity and gives encouragement and support to all kids.

Follow a group of children through a day in their school, where everyone is welcomed with open arms. A school where kids in patkas, hijabs, and yarmulkes play side-by-side with friends in baseball caps. A school where students grow and learn from each other's traditions and the whole community gathers to celebrate Lunar New Year.

ALL ARE WELCOME lets young children know that no matter what, they have a place, they have a space, they are welcome in their school.

ALL ARE WELCOME is a New York Times bestseller, and it also earned a starred review from Kirkus.

In this photo of Thistle curling up with both books, you can see the beautiful cover that's underneath the jacket (that doubles as a poster) of ALL ARE WELCOME.

Have you read ONE FAMILY and/or ALL ARE WELCOME? Can you recommend any other picture books that emphasize inclusion?

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Amsterdam! Part II!

When my family and I traveled to New York and London, we started each trip with a "hop-on, hop-off" bus tour. That allowed us to get a broad picture of the places we were visiting. Amsterdam offered "hop-on, hop-off" canal cruises, so my son and I took one! It was such a fun and unique way to start sightseeing in the Netherlands!

That afternoon, we went to the Anne Frank House and were able to go through the hinged bookcase and move around in the space where the Franks and the others stayed for more than two years during World War II. It's awful to think about having to hide in there for so long--with everything at stake--and then being captured. Anne died in a concentration camp two months before Holland was liberated. It's incredibly tragic.

With so many visitors walking through those rooms each day and reflecting on the terribleness of it all, I hope people learn from it. We left there with heavy hearts.

The next day, we were off on lighter adventures.

We toured a wooden shoe factory.

In the Netherlands, even the cows wear wooden shoes.

Okay, I was just messing with you. Did you believe me? Even for a second??

We went to Marken, a quaint and beautiful seaside village,

and hopped on a ferry that took us to a fishing village, Voldendam.

There we toured a cheese factory

before eating in a pub that had super-delicious fish and chips.

Our next stop was Zaanse Schans, a place with real, working windmills!

The windmill we toured made peanut oil.

I loved the way the natural light seeped through the windows.

Another highlight of the trip was a meal at Upstairs Pannenkoekenhuis where I had THE BEST PANCAKES EVER. Seriously, bloggy friends: amazing!

I took this pic looking down the steep stairs that led up to the restaurant.

My pancake! Oh. Em. Gee.

Photos of the Dutch royal family hung on the walls,

and teapots hung from the ceiling.

Click here for a video I found online that captures the charm of the place! There are only four tables and the restaurant is extremely popular, so make a reservation if you plan to go. Call one week in advance, if you can. It's a sweet place and definitely worth scheduling into your itinerary.

Johannes Vermeer was from Delft, so I was eager to visit that area. While there, we toured the Royal Delft factory.

This artist was painting a Royal Delft tulip vase.

I enjoyed looking at the ornate details inside the factory. Some of the walls were gorgeous.

This is a picture of Rembrandt's The Night Watch that artists recreated in Royal Delft tiles!

I bought this souvenir!

A car painted like Royal Delft pottery was parked outside!

Click here for some fun facts about Delftware.

More highlights from our trip:

Vermeer's Girl with a Pearl Earring is inside this museum!

Mauritsuis, The Hague

Eeeeee! It was such a moving experience, seeing it! I bought a refrigerator magnet in the museum gift shop to remind myself that I have really been inches from the actual painting! (Not like I'd forget, right?!) 


statue of Willem of Orange - The Hague

Imagine Peace Wish Tree - Peace Palace, The Hague

The Hague

looking up in Amsterdam

Our trip was at the end of August, and it already feels far away! Thank goodness for small souvenirs and, best of all, big memories with my son! 

On our last night in the Netherlands,

I bought these wooden tulips.

I keep them in a jelly-jar vase a family friend gave me. She'd found it on a beach and liked it because it had dead barnacles stuck to it. 

Maybe someday I'll find a tulip vase from Delft that I can buy. Or maybe not. Maybe keeping a little bit of Holland inside something found on the edge of the Salish Sea--my son's and my home--is perfect.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Amsterdam! Part I!

An opportunity to visit Amsterdam with my son popped up this past summer, and I leaped at it! The chance to go on an adventure with my son to a brand-new (to us) place? I couldn't afford to miss it! A part of me still hardly believes we went because going to the Netherlands is something I never thought I'd get to do.

I shouldn't be surprised, though. Know why? The first two reports I ever wrote, wa-a-ay back in elementary school, were on:

1. squirrels
2. Amsterdam

I had seen squirrels (as my long-time blog friends know). It was high time I saw Amsterdam!



But while I'd written a report when I was about seven (that I'm sure was quite riveting), I wanted to learn more about Amsterdam (or Amsterdarn, for those of you who are goody two shoes).

So I bought a book.

Russell Shorto's Amsterdam: A History of the World's Most Liberal City is an excellent book! I highly recommend it, whether you're going to visit Amsterdam, have gone already, or would just like to learn about an incredible place with a history of tolerance, radicalism, and a lot of water. It's both entertaining and fascinating. I started reading it on my trip, and it made my experiences there richer. While I'd previously learned snippets of facts, like about the Dutch in New York and John Adams in the Netherlands, I had no idea that so many United States places and institutions (for example, the stock market) had roots in Amsterdam.

Shorto is a talented storyteller. I love this book so much that I've been recommending it to family and friends, and I even bought a second copy to give as a gift.

Another book choice I made because of our trip: Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl.

I read it when I was a kid, probably close to the age Anne Frank was when she started her journal, but I'm rereading it. After seeing where she and her family hid during World War II, I want to reread her thoughts and experiences. It's so tragic, so haunting, and so heartbreaking. It's something that must never be forgotten. Not ever.

I'll end here for now. Next time I'll post more of the photos my son and I took on our trip!

Have you been to Amsterdam? What nonfiction books have you read because of places you've traveled or would like to visit?

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Hip hip hooray! Exciting news for Faith Pray!

Faith Pray's gorgeous words and art will be brightening the world when she debuts as an author-illustrator! Faith is a dear friend, and I am so thrilled for her! She's inspiring, hard working, and one of the sweetest people I know. Her writing is beautiful, poetic, and full of heart, and I adore her illustrations. I can't wait to hold her picture book, The Girl and the Star, in my hot little hands!

Congratulations, Faith! Keep shining, sweet friend! 

*Just in case you are not a teeny-tiny mouse with teeny-tiny mouse vision, I'll write what the announcement says in a larger font size:

"Maria Modugno at Random House has preempted The Girl and the Star, Faith Pray's debut as an author-illustrator. In the picture book, a girl makes a wish that she'll find a way to change the world around her, and a lost star helps her find the way to do so. Publication is set for summer 2020; Molly O'Neill at Root Literary negotiated the deal for world English rights."

Sunday, April 15, 2018


Here's the buzz: TURN THIS BOOK INTO A BEEHIVE! is the bee's knees!

written by Lynn Brunelle and illustrated by Anna-Maria Jung
Workman Publishing
pub date: April 3, 2018

Eagle Harbor Book Company hosted a fun event for Lynn last Friday. I went, bought my very own copy of TURN THIS BOOK INTO A BEEHIVE!, and had it autographed!

 Lynn and I

This book is fascinating--and super cool! Kids can do experiments and activities while learning about bees. They can even turn parts of the book into a real beehive, encouraging mason bees to move in and pollinate! Yay! That's a huge deal to anyone who likes food. (Yeah, that's all of us.) Pollination leads to the food we eat, whether it's fruit, veggies, grains, or even cheese or meat from grazing animals. Bee populations are dwindling, and mason bees--the bees these hives attract--pollinate way more than honeybees. (Note: mason bees aren't aggressive, and they don't sting!) Helping the bees means helping everyone, so creating more hives is kind of saving the world, right?

This book would be awesome for teachers, parents, or grandparents. Kids of all ages would enjoy it! Lynn is a fabulous writer. She earned four Emmy Awards writing for Bill Nye the Science Guy. Plus she's sooo nice, and she's a friend.

Have fun! Learn! Save the world! Buy the book! :)